July 6, 2016 11:44 am

Cover songs can be both a wonderful and cringe-worthy affair. They allow contemporary artists to dust off forgotten gems and repackage them for a new generation. Occasionally, a cover will manage to even improve on the original, though often they fall short. The Carpenters or Sonic Youth; Otis Redding or The Rolling Stones or Devo; The Postal Service or The Shins? Al Green or Talking Heads?—this go-to conversation fodder can quickly escalate into heated debates.  Youtuber Anthony Vincent gives covers to you 20 different ways in one dizzying burst.

Ten Second Songs doesn’t particularly befit a YouTube channel dedicated to the Jim Carey of pop music impersonators—for whatever reason, the title automatically reminded me of this classic AskReddit thread instead. Nonetheless, Anthony Vincent’s goofball concoctions are a total gas. If you you’re in need of a quick and hardy laugh, he’s got you covered.

Vincent’s main attraction is the 20 Style Cover Series, in which he sings through a selected track—often voted for anonymously by his loyal subscribers—and redubs the song in the style of a random interchanging array of musical guises, from Frank Sinatra to Nirvana and RunDMC to Daddy Yankee. Sure, it’s a touch on the gimmicky side, but that’s totally the point–the pure belly-laugh value is undeniable as Vincent mashes up some often hysterical combinations. Make sure to check out his HUGE variety of covers here. This is one of our favorites, enjoy!

June 30, 2016 1:26 pm

Who’s World is This? (The World is Yours The World is Yours) It’s Mine It’s Mine It’s Mine, Who’s World is This?

This year, the world clearly belongs to Nas. Everyone else is just living in it.

Nasir Jones–better known by his stage name Nas–is consistently ranked among the top rappers of all time. He’s been spitting bricks about social justice for minorities and growing up in the Queensbridge housing projects since he dropped his 1994 Illmatic, an essential hip-hop classic. Since then seven of his records have been certified platinum–he is an undisputed master, an urban poet laureate.

Even Harvard University can’t deny his profound impact on culture.

In 2013, Nas forged a partnership with the Ivy League School, thus establishing the Nasir Jones Hip Hop Fellowship with the broad intention of funding scholars and artists who demonstrate exceptional creative ability in the arts, in connection with Hip Hop. Now I know what your thinking–Harvard?! But hip-hop is less than 50 years old, has introduced sampling to the general collective conscious, and has been a key factor in not only enabling people of all backgrounds to think critically about society, but also acting as a tool for minorities to offer a strong sense of community and an expression of life through the eyes of the silenced. The Hip Hop Archive & Research Institute and the W. E. B. Du Bois Research Institute will utilize the fellowship to bring in hip hop talent, fund projects, and allow the next generation of underprivileged poets to reach the pinnacle of academic achievement. It doesn’t stop there. In addition to helping pave the way for the next generation of hip-hop talent, Nas also wants to shake up the white and male-dominated tech sphere.

Nas isn’t alone in his assertion that Silicon Vally doesn’t have a diverse enough workplace–especially when you factor in that California is also one of the most diverse states in the country. Even Google admitted they needed to work on diversity when they released this report a few years ago. Then in 2014, the Internet services giant, along with Nas and software mainstay Microsoft, began collaboratively funding an initiative by The General Assembly (GA). The New York-based vocational program specializes in providing scholarships to underrepresented African Americans, Latinos and women that want to persuit a career in software engineering and web design. Pretty cool stuff Nas.

If you’re still unimpressed, Nas isn’t done giving back quite yet either. Nas will be hosting a free music festival for you New Yorkers this summer! In collaboration with his own Mass Appeal Magazine, Live At The BBQ will feature Ty Dolla $ign, DJ Shadow, Danny Brown, and Machine Gun Kelly.

January 14, 2016 1:40 pm

By now the “farewell concert” has become something of a cliché.

Ever since Jay-Z hosted his retirement extravaganza back in 2003 (which didn’t last very long), the legitimacy of other acts celebrating their exit from show business has been somewhat questionable. Let’s be honest though, are we ever upset when one of favorite artists decides to come out of the wood work and start performing again? Absolutely not.

LCD Soundsystem, what hasn’t been said about them already?  For a band with a relatively short life span of only 10 years, they released three critically acclaimed albums, and for many of us, defined an indelible era of musical history.

Although it’s easy to forget sometimes, given how popular music has shifted toward an EDM-dominated landscape, that there was a time when electronic music wasn’t very ‘cool’ at all.

It was flaunted by cool kids, hipsters.  LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy first made a name for himself by co-founding DFA Records, a record label that quickly picked up steam as an underground advocate for house music’s accession into the mainstream.

By the time LCD Soundsystem formed in 2001 their hometown of Brooklyn had already been transformed into the central hub of hipsterdom (yeah I know, I made up a word, but so what?!).  Indie electronic music was about to explode into a global phenomenon.  Albums like Cut Copy’s In Ghost Colours, Jus†ice’s , and lest we forget, LCD Soundsystem’s Sound of Silver, received not only rave reviews from the music press, but were starting to cut mainstream pop out of the picture all together. This empowering shift marked the beginning of the digital age, for the first time since recorded music’s inception, listeners were choosing their own music, and plugging their iPod’s (that’s right) into their car stereos rather than listening to overly-glossed Top 40 hits and mainly commercials.

By the end of the decade LCD Soundsystem was on top of the world.  Sold out concerts, packed festivals, and Murphy plastered onto the front page of every music publication possible.

Then, like all good things, LCD Soundsystem decided it was time to call it quits.  On February 5th, 2011, the band announced on their website that they thought it was better to quit while they were ahead and go out with a bang.

On April 2nd, 2011, at Madison Square Garden, the band performed their final show.

Hold on, hold on. Where have a heard this before? This is bogus! You know this isn’t going to last! Come on!

Sure enough…on January 5th this note was posted to their website.  That’s right, they’re back. Like really back.

Of course, it’s no surprise that somehow Coachella managed to cash in on their triumphant return. While we can safely assume plenty of festival-goers will flock to the outskirts of Palo Alto to sweat it out this April, where will LCD Soundsystem appear next?  For now, my friends, the answer to that question is shrouded in mystery.  The only hint is a promising yet cryptic message on their website: “2016 tour dates coming soon.”  I supposed we’ll have to wait it out (although, I think it’s safe to assume they’ll be playing somewhere in the vicinity of New York.)

By far the most important tidbit of information is that there’s a new album in the works.

LCD Soundsystem has a pretty awesome discography. It’s dancey, but sophisticated. It’s music that celebrates dusting off obscure records for audiophiles with an interest in obscure music. You know, like cool kids. Hipsters.

So in short, farewell concerts are probably a sham, so don’t drive halfway across the country to celebrate your favorite band’s early–er, I mean, botched retirement. LCD Soundsystem is back and 2016 is going to be an awesome year to ”Dance Yrself Clean yet again!

December 4, 2015 3:12 pm

ICYMI: Adele’s newest album 25 dropped two weeks ago. Blowing away projections across the music industry, the album sold an unprecedented record-breaking 3.38 million copies in its first week.

To put things simply: These kinds of numbers are unheard of in the modern day recorded music industry.

To go into a bit more detail: Adele’s 25 sold the highest number of albums in its first week since Nielsen Soundscan began tracking point-of-sale information in 1991. The previous number one slot in 1st week album sales was held by *NYSYNC’s album No Strings Attached in 2000. Adele’s 25 shattered *NSYNC’s record by nearly a million copies. Adele’s 25 sold more albums in one week than any other album has over the past 24 years, and potentially even longer.

So what is it? How was Adele able to sell a record breaking number of albums in 2015?

Theories floating: Industry executives around the world have been arguing back and forth about how she did it. Notorious music industry contrarian extraordinaire Bob Lefsetz offered up his theory that her success is due at its core to the quality of the music. Many agree and I’ve heard the “she’s in a league of her own” argument thrown around. Others have referenced her digital marketing and social media campaigns which relied on a mysteriously brooding aesthetic to get people talking about Adele everywhere you looked for weeks leading up to the release. Some go so far as to say point blank it’s because she kept her music off streaming and video-sharing services like Spotify and YouTube.

All of these theories are valid and probably contributed in some way or another to her success. But none of these theories asses the key part of my question above: how was she able to do this all specifically in the year 2015? There have been other albums as great as 25. There have been as good if not better marketed albums than 25. Other artists have kept their music off of streaming and haven’t seen these kinds of results (remember last year’s Taylor Swift vs. Spotify drama)…


Here’s my theory: It’s not just that Adele was able to sell this many albums in 2015. It’s that only Adele could sell this many albums in 2015.

Here’s why: In 2015, streaming has become a major player and is helping to defeat illegal downloading as a preferred method of digital music consumption (as reported by digital music news). Streaming is more convenient than piracy, as you can do it immediately from your mobile device without taking up storage space. Plus it is free with services like YouTube and Spotify’s “freemium” tier.

Whether streaming is a good or bad thing for artists in terms of both short-term and long-term revenue is up for debate, with good reason. However, it is hard to argue with the fact that as streaming becomes more and more popular, illegal downloading will eventually become obsolete.

1035x1407-R1248_coverSo when it was announced that Adele’s 25 was not going to be on streaming and video-sharing sites, one would think digital music fans would flock to illegal downloading sites. Instead, nearly 1 million fans went to the iTunes store on release day to buy the album. It’s a lot easier to justify spending $9.99 on an album that you really want when the majority of your music consumption is free!

Adele’s fans and music fans alike were willing to spend the money on her album because streaming has made most music accessible for little to no cost. 25 became a one-time splurge, a small purchase you had to make if you wanted to hear the album because it was going to be a pain in the ass to do it the hard (and illegal) way of piracy.

Sure, there are plenty more reasons that Adele’s 25 was able to sell as much as it did: the songwriting, the power of her voice, the quality of the music, the social media impact, the targeted advertising driving to physical retail, the late night performances, the Radio City Music Hall etc. But by many standards, 21 released in 2011 had a much stronger commercial appeal than 25 with mega-hits like “Rolling in the Deep,” “Someone Like You,” “Set Fire to the Rain,” and “Rumour Has It.”

The difference between 2011 and 2015: streaming. 

Adele withholding her album from streaming did not cause people to download it illegally. Instead, they bought it. They kicked it old school. They got in their cars and drove to the nearest Target or Indie record store. Or they went on their phones and pressed the “buy” button on iTunes. They spent the $9.99 because they thought it was worth it. They thought she was worth it.

In conclusion: Adele’s album didn’t sell as much as it did despite the fact that it’s 2015, she did so because it’s 2015.